As humans, we form social perceptions as a result of several factors. According to the social learning theory, people learn through imitation of peers and companions; thus, they form opinions based on the beliefs of those around them. Without a doubt, the social learning theory applies to the discussion of suicide. Current acceptance of suicide in the United States originates from the many different cultures and societies which make up the United States today. The conventional notions relating to suicide do more than just explain the American viewpoint; such information can be extremely revealing about the American social structure. Acceptability of suicide, however, is not fully dependent on those who view it; the suicide victim also forms justifications for his suicide based on that which society presents to him.
To obtain information about former societies and their cultures, historians rely on items such as recovered documents and artifacts; however, the idea of analyzing suicides as means of divulging information about a society is not a new concept. Over one hundred years ago, Emile Durkheim became one of the first men to study suicide. As a result, he developed a theory which links suicides to society. According to Durkheim's theory, a suicide victim's reasons committing the act reflect that which society considers acceptable or decent. Even today, social perspectives about an issue as controversial as suicide reflect that which is considered "acceptable" behavior. By considering the circumstances under which suicide is considered "acceptable" or "rational", one can learn about the typical moral structure of the United States.
In the book, Le Suicide, Emile Durkheim discussed four forms of suicide, each involving a different personality type. David Lester relates these types to today's society ("Applying Durkheim's Typology" 231). The first of the four is the egoistic suicide. In this case the individual chooses... [continues]
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